I’ve never really been religious. I grew up with a father who is very anti-religious and I considered myself very lucky for that. Recently however I was re-introduced to the idea of fitra and it had nothing to do with God.
The first time I learnt about fitra was in deen class. Our teacher was telling us that fitra is an innate sense of Islam that every Muslim is born with. It struck me as odd because I never felt inherently Muslim although I was born as one. It got me thinking though about what my instincts were and in which direction they pointed.
The first thought that came to mind was that I was born a feminist. There is no negotiating that. I’ve been in tune to gender power dynamics from the moment I became aware of my surroundings. The second was that I would never get married, in that very heteronormative sort of way; that my fate for love would be difficult and unconventional. In hindsight, I was never really aware of what I was projecting but it was the strongest feeling I ever endured. It came straight out of my gut.
As time passed and I experienced many cycles of uprooting, I let go of any faith in a sense of belonging and with that I gave up on that first thread of self-discovery. As a consequence, I was married on March 8th, 2008 to my boyfriend of 4 years.
I strongly believe that as much as it was a coincidence for the occasion of my marriage to coincide with international women’s day as much as it was deliberate. Like pieces of dominoes tumbling on top of one another, everything feminist in me rejected everything that the marriage offered. I just could not find my place or feel myself within it, I was fidgeting and I could not see why.
Soon enough, my masked instincts were presented with a chance to reveal themselves and it could not have been more perfect. I fell in love with a woman and I fell hard with a huge loud thump after which nothing could ever be the same again. It was like a slap across the face, icy water dumped over my head, a jolt of memory rushing through my veins. And with all of that came a warm honest familiarity, a rekindled childhood connection. I could be truthful again. I started to write again.
But that was neither the end nor the beginning. It took me a year and a half to truly come to terms with myself. It was a process of getting over denial, realizing my inner self, acknowledging it as something positive, and then finally fighting for its right to manifest.
Through all of this, I’ve learnt that fitra is not to be taken for granted. We are bounded by societies that indoctrinate and crowd us with guilt, judgments and fear of the unconventional. Purifying your fitra from external wastes and noises is a form of self-compliance and an act of resistance all at once.
And finally, many confrontations, an ugly divorce and a passionate lover’s reunion later, I finally come out to myself as queer. And I could not be more proud or happy.
Contributed by Butterfly
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